Amber Zirnhelt

Amber Zirnhelt

  • Global South

Amber is the manager of the Energy Transition Academy at RMI, where she works with utilities, regulators, government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector to support capacity development efforts to advance the energy transition in the Global South.

Amber is passionate about building relationships and innovative stakeholder collaboration to tackle climate change, promote renewable energy, and address community development priorities.


Amber has more than fifteen years of management experience in both the nonprofit and local government sectors, with a focus on developing, leading, and implementing climate change, sustainability, energy efficiency, and renewable energy plans and programs.

Prior to joining RMI, Amber was the director of Community Planning and Livability for the City of Campbell River, British Columbia, where she focused on integrating sustainability and climate action throughout city services. Her experience in municipal government includes roles as director of planning, director of development services, and manager of sustainability and long range planning overseeing a diverse range of portfolios including planning, engineering, bylaw, environmental services, solid waste, affordable housing, downtown revitalization, and recreation. Amber’s previous positions include project officer for the International Centre for Sustainable Cities, assistant coordinator for BC for the Canadian Climate Impact and Adaptation Research Network, and working on community planning with indigenous communities in BC.

Amber is a registered professional planner (RPP, MCIP), and an active member of the Planning Institute of British Columbia’s Climate Action Committee. She has served on a variety of provincial and national energy and climate change working groups with utilities, industry, government, and non-governmental organizations in Canada. Amber is a recipient of the Best in Canada Innovation Award for Climate Leadership from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and multiple national and provincial awards for climate change, planning, and sustainability initiatives.


MSc, Geography (Community Planning), University of Edinburgh; University of Edinburgh Teaching Scholarship

BA Honours, Environmental Geography, University of British Columbia; National Loran and Canadian Millennium Scholar

Capilano University, Local Government Leadership Program

Authored Works